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How do you plan your school year?

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I'm back to homeschooling everyone this coming year after a few years of mixing things up with full or part time school. I'm feeling eager to plan but wanting some inspiration; want to share how you all plan your school year? How much planning do you do at a time? How often to you review or adjust plans? How specific or non specific are your plans? Favorite planning resources?

I've got 1st, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th grade next year, plus a couple of tag along littles.

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I overdo it. 😄
First, I look at what we used this year and whether we want to continue that program.  Then I look to see what is on my shelves in the other subjects/to be used as supplements.  I make up a spreadsheet that has options to split into semesters and I list resources for each subject, either for the year or for the semester.  (This is also what gets turned into the school district as my education plan)
The next page of my spreadsheet has all the resources in list form along with best website and price.  I total it up at the bottom so I know what to budget.  This is usually my incentive to start cutting corners and look for deals. 🙂

My LAST tab is 36, 4-day weeks.  I start to write out actual lessons, weekly supply lists, and library books.  I start to put together the supplies so I have them handy and don't have to worry about it at the last minute.  This is also when I start realizing that some things looked really good in theory, but in practice have to be scrapped.  When I started putting in SOTW vol. 4 it felt so heavy and rushed that I scrapped that plan entirely and went back to looking at my shelves.  I'll be creating units instead this year. 

For a lot of years I planned the lessons by creating highlighted blocks that were movement-based lessons.  I needed to make sure I wasn't planning days that were heavy on sitting down and doing written work for a little kid.  It was really easy to forget that.  By making the active lessons bright green I knew I was keeping true to my ideals at a glance.  This year I will be alternating skill-based, intensive subjects with ones that allow for a little more relaxation and a brain break. 

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I behind by deciding on goals for each child. So for math maybe that's finish 5th grade in 5th grade.  Or be ready for Algebra at the end of the year.  Or be confident manipulating numbers 10 and under.  For writing that may be learning to form letters or become confident in essays.  It might even be as simple as "exposure to and appreciation of botony".

Then I pick curricula or make a plan that will achieve said goal. 

I split that plan or curricula into three.  One for each season (sept-nov, dec-feb, mar-may).  I then split each season into 10 weeks, leaving off two weeks for breaks or holidays or catching up.  

I look at that and then adjust or combine kids as necessary to reflect reality.

I do all of that in the spring.

Then I plan in the minutae 5 weeks at a time.  Hopefully during one of those handy 2 week breaks.  

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51 minutes ago, maize said:

I'm back to homeschooling everyone this coming year after a few years of mixing things up with full or part time school. I'm feeling eager to plan but wanting some inspiration; want to share how you all plan your school year? How much planning do you do at a time? How often to you review or adjust plans? How specific or non specific are your plans? Favorite planning resources?

I've got 1st, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th grade next year, plus a couple of tag along littles.

Very relaxed hser here. 🙂

Our school year was January 1 to December 31. When the dc were younger, we did Official School Stuff on Mondays and Tuesdays; library on Wednesday; field trip on Friday; clean house/monthly park day on Friday. I planned to be off for a couple of weeks around Easter; a couple of weeks in late August/early September, and Thanksgiving through about the middle of January. My planning for many years consisted mainly of picking up things that looked interesting, reading through them, and then doing them on Monday and Tuesday until we finished (or got tired of them).

The year that they were 9 and 12, we moved to another part of the state. That year I did every day Just Like School. We were all burned out by Thanksgiving, and when I put the books away as usual, I didn't pick them up again until the following fall, when we did KONOS, Vol. 2. I followed the suggested schedule in the book (this was long before there were lesson plans), which was Inquisitiveness for September and October; Responsibility for November; Generosity/Love for December; Responsibility again in January; Courage for February and March; Wisdom for April and May. I found that it worked best for me to have KONOS days, instead of doing a few KONOS activities each day, so our KONOS days were Monday and Wednesday; everything else was Tuesday and Thursday; clean house/monthly park day was Friday.

I work best with a routine--not a schedule, but a routine. And that routine is set in stone. It messes me up SO MUCH when my routine is changed, lol So for us, that meant no outside activities on any day until after 4:00; library and field trips were important to me. And clean-house-on-Friday/park day.  No co-ops (if they had been invented then, which they weren't), no homeschool sports or other classes, nothing. We needed to be with each other more than we needed to be with other people; library and field trips days gave us outside time. 🙂

My KONOS planning went like this: I read through the whole volume over the course of several evenings, penciling in check marks next to activities that looked interesting. Then I went back and checked off activities that I thought we would actually do, lol. The month before I was going to start a character trait, I sat down with my calendar; knowing that I was only going to do two KONOS days a week, and that a character trait would be one month or two, I checked outside appointments or activities on those days; if there were major appointments this week such that getting to the library for extra trade books or to the craft store or whatever would be tricky, I scheduled KONOS activities for the *next* week that didn't require outside resources (which is easy, really, because everything you need to know is right there in the book itself). If it was a slow week, I scheduled activities for the *next* week that required outside resources. I wrote activity numbers in pencil on the calendar. I just read through them the night before; the next day we went right through them. If I didn't finish, I moved any leftovers to the next KONOS day; if I still didn't finish, I just erased them.

In my little one-room, multi-grade school, I scheduled our days holidays first, then I went through each book for each subject and figured out how much the children might be able to do daily. Some things needed a little more planning, such as our Famous Men of... lessons. But I also came to appreciate some materials that the children could work on more independently, that I might not have used when I was hsing my two children, such as the R&S English, spelling, and math texts (although 1st-3rd math texts do require teaching first). I needed to be able to say, "Dear, go do this." You might need to do that, too, rather than choosing everything that is teacher-intensive (I don't remember what you did before, so just throwing this out there).

You have quite an age range. You could probably do the younger two together for many things, and the middle two together for many things. Your oldest one will probably need to do his own thing. However, all of your older children should be able to work with the younger children for some things while you work with the others. One-room school and all that. 🙂

I have read that people with many children have been helped by "Managers of Their Homes."

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I start with the calendar. The first column of my spreadsheet is week numbers, and the second is the date of each Monday. I start by marking out every week I know we won't have a full week of school. Sometimes I'm not sure (e.g., When will my in-laws visit next spring?) so I just pick a week, and I can adjust later.

The next several columns are subjects or, once I've chosen them, resources. The last columns are for the number of days completed that week and total since July 1.

Fairly far ahead, I buy the resources I think look right for this kid this year, and start planning one subject at a time. I build in some weeks for review and plan to finish things at approximately the same time. Once the school year starts, I turn each box gray when the work listed in it is done. If we keep winding up behind in one subject, I know I have to make changes.

I make a separate sheet for a weekly routine. The less that changes, the better.

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I think my method goes something like:

  • I divide up each course into 36 weeks to figure out how many times a week to schedule things (thankfully I've been using many of our current curricula for a long time so I only have to do this with new ones)
  • If I'm using a new curriculum I haven't before, I spend time writing out a schedule or syllabus for the book that I can follow when I do my weekly planning
  • I then make up a schedule for each kid and fit everything into a week, trying to make each day as even as possible (again, after 12 years, I'm reusing old schedules so this isn't much work at all)
  • during the school year, I plan one week at a time so that if we miss a day or something changes, I don't have to erase too much. I have a master planner for myself where I write everyone's plans for the week (I made it myself in Word and print it and stick it on a clipboard; for the life of me I can't find an adequate pre-made planner). I have one page for each day of the week.
  • then I write everyone's individual work into their own planners, basically copying them from my master plan

I revisit and adjust anytime an issue comes up, such as someone feels like Wednesday has too much work on it, or a certain curriculum doesn't work out for someone and they change to a new one, etc. I'm pretty specific in that I write down which pages or lessons each kid will do on what day, except for my 1st grade daughter. Her section is more of a log - I write down what she did after the fact because she is still very much in the interest-led stage where she may want to do way more or less than I planned. I'm usually fine with being so specific because if the week gets messed up, I start over the next week since I only plan a week at a time, and also, if I don't write down every little thing, I'll forget it needs doing.

Edited by hollyhock2
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every year I read sections of TWTM

 I then have a page with headings for each subject

 I fill in what curriculum I am going to use for each subject under the heading

I make sure I have all the books I need an d purchase some if needed

 I then get distracted by all the other options and purchase some unneeded extras that I thought looked excellent at the time

I put all the books for the year into piles including the books I will assign as readers

 and that is it

 

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Curriculum

  1. I consult 2 documents that I've created. One is a general K-12 list of academic and personal goals, the other is a course catalog I've created to meet those goals.
  2. I create a chart of curriculum I want to use this year per subject. Across the top is student names (student one, student 2 and both) and down the side is categories for that subject, Greek has writing, reading and auditory resources, Writing has writing, grammar, memory work and games.
  3. I simplify those charts into one chart with names across the top and subjects down the side. This will be attached (please ignore the green, it just means I need to buy it).
  4. I create a weekly routine around curriculum used.

Calendar

  1. I download a school calendar from one of the various websites available.
  2. I block out Christmas break and choose the rest of our breaks around that. This upcoming year I chose a 9 on 2 off schedule which gave me 41 weeks of school. We will not do 41 weeks of school. I like grace.
  3. I note all important dates.

Organization

  1. My thing lately has been a traveler's notebook. I print my own booklets. One is a weekly booklet with chores, school work and a blank daily schedule. The other is my teacher's manual of which I print a new one each term. The pages this year include a 2 page spread of dot pages, yearly calendar, 20 year plan (personal-money, travel, physical health goals, includes the kids ages for reference), when did I last and ongoing to do list, TOCs of referenced curriculum, answer keys, future plans and ongoing thoughts, misspelled words and other mistakes, booklist, content covered, remaining lessons for the term.
  2. School cart. I have a library cart I use to hold all of my curriculum so we can do school wherever we want.

2019-2020 Calendar.doc 2019-2020 Curriculum Map.pdf

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We're on Week 5 of our school year, so I am starting to take a look at the next one already.  I plan for 5 kids at different levels, so it takes me a very long time to plan a school year.  

I have a blank notebook just for planning a school year.  I list all of the subjects I want to teach each kid that school year and then start filling them in with what resources I want to use for that subject.  I'll take notes all over the notebook of stuff I find online.  

After I have a general list of books, etc that I want to use, I create an Excel spreadsheet by week - actually similar to the one on Ambleside Online's website.  I list all the subjects along the top and the weeks down the side.  I break everything apart onto the spreadsheet - including labs, writing assignments, research papers, movies to watch for the course, etc.    

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I figure out what I want to use for each subject. (I can go through my process for that if you'd like, but I don't think that's what you're looking for.)

If it's open-and-go, great! 

If it's not open-and-go, I do whatever I need to make it open-and-go. Sometimes that's fairly quick and easy - for example, with math, I just need to figure out which pages the child will do each day. And sometimes it's a lot of work - for example, right now I'm going through our history spine for next year and making my own "student pages" for it - daily assignments, with comprehension questions, longer response questions, map work, primary source evaluations, etc. Whenever I finish making those (IF I EVER DO!), I'll have the whole year ready to go and just have to figure out how many days per week we're doing history.

Then I figure out basically how many days per week for each subject, and everything goes into Homeschool Skedtrack, which I've used for a year now and really love. 

The only thing that I don't do quite that way is reading (literature). Right now all my kids do for that is just plain read, so there are no written assignments to work in with that. And they read at varying speeds - sometimes they read the minimum number of chapters I assign on a day, and sometimes they read the whole book in a day, or anything in between. So for that, I just have a list of books I think would be good for them to read, and I just play it by ear throughout the year.

Edited by purpleowl
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Oh Wow! I feel a little unqualified with how I do it compared to others. I research to find the curriculum I want then just do the next thing each day. No planning ahead. If there is a subject like History that I want to go deeper I just look things up at the time. For instance, when we covered the Civil War I looked up movies and went to the library and did additional things until I felt we were done then we moved on. Most subjects though I just do the next thing. I would feel so overwhelmed if I had to totally plan ahead and have lesson plans. I do have my kids read every day. I choose books for them and then I'll mix in a book of their choice. That way we aren't always reading things such as Captain Underpants haha. On Fridays I did a light load and only did the main subjects like Math, LA. This next year I'll have a high schooler so I'll need to have him continue his full load on Friday. Maybe I just choose curriculum that allows me to not have to plan ahead because that's what I need in order to homeschool. Someone else has done that for me. I don't schedule field trips ahead of time. If I feel we need a break then I throw one in.

 

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13 minutes ago, Mom28kds said:

Oh Wow! I feel a little unqualified with how I do it compared to others. I research to find the curriculum I want then just do the next thing each day. No planning ahead. If there is a subject like History that I want to go deeper I just look things up at the time. For instance, when we covered the Civil War I looked up movies and went to the library and did additional things until I felt we were done then we moved on. Most subjects though I just do the next thing. I would feel so overwhelmed if I had to totally plan ahead and have lesson plans. I do have my kids read every day. I choose books for them and then I'll mix in a book of their choice. That way we aren't always reading things such as Captain Underpants haha. On Fridays I did a light load and only did the main subjects like Math, LA. This next year I'll have a high schooler so I'll need to have him continue his full load on Friday. Maybe I just choose curriculum that allows me to not have to plan ahead because that's what I need in order to homeschool. Someone else has done that for me. I don't schedule field trips ahead of time. If I feel we need a break then I throw one in.

 

If I don't have the extras mapped out, here's what happens FOR ME:

  • I don't think of extras in the moment because I'm in "get it done" mode instead of "figure out what we can do" mode. Then we miss out on stuff that would have been really good to incorporate because I didn't think of it. OR...
  • I do think of something extra, so I say to myself, "The next thing we do should be X." And then I waste 3 weeks not getting a chance to gather materials for X, and then we haven't done anything at all for 3 weeks.

So FOR ME, it works a lot better to spend time in planning mode, figuring out what all the extras will be, what I'll need when, etc. In theory, I could do this for a few weeks at a time rather than for the whole year, but I like having an overall picture of how much I want to accomplish over the course of the year so I can make sure we're basically on track.

But like you said - it depends on what each of us needs in order to homeschool! I am better at getting things done if I have the whole thing mapped out up front. It's not a qualified/unqualified thing - just what works for each person to teach their kids. 🙂 

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I love big picture planning and hate daily planning.  I make a spreadsheet for each academic year and student, write down subjects, main goals, curricula, book lists... depends on the year for how complex the lists are.  Then, I make a list of prep work I need to do each weekend in order for the week to work- photocopies that need to be made, chapters I need to pre-read, lab materials to gather, writing prompts, etc.  

 

I make weekly checklists for each kid plus a master schedule for me.  

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After I have decided what will be taught and what curriculum will be used, I:

- take each curriculum and chose what each lesson will cover. Place each lesson into Canvas (used to use spreadsheets). Include any needed supply lists, youtube links, web links, supplemental material on the lesson page in Canvas.

I do this for the entire curriculum over the summer. It takes me a couple hours per day for about a month to get everything done. But when the school year starts we are open and go and I know that each lesson is thought out and we aren't missing anything important. It also gives me a birds-eye view in that  I can see overlaps that can be skipped or covered quicker the 2nd time around. I can also make different subjects coordinate (for specific topics, not all year). For example, we did a link between history, science, art, and reading last year that was awesome and allowed the kids to grasp the information on a deeper level.

On school day, we open the lesson in Canvas, do what it says and then mark it as complete. They can also take quizzes in Canvas and turn in assignments there as well.

Planning --takes time and effort --- but just makes these easier when it is show time.

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2 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I love big picture planning and hate daily planning.  I make a spreadsheet for each academic year and student, write down subjects, main goals, curricula, book lists... depends on the year for how complex the lists are.  Then, I make a list of prep work I need to do each weekend in order for the week to work- photocopies that need to be made, chapters I need to pre-read, lab materials to gather, writing prompts, etc.  

 

I make weekly checklists for each kid plus a master schedule for me.  

 

This is what I’m like. I buy everything and schedule everything for the whole year before the school year starts. But, I do all the scanning, copying, printing, booklists, supply lists, etc. for the whole year. I arrange everything into 36 weeks with a master copy for me that will go into their portfolio and one for them that they consult and check off themselves. 

I’ve only ever felt the need to switch what I was doing mid-year once. And I’ve only had to change the scheduled pace once. 

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On 6/1/2019 at 6:37 PM, maize said:

I'm back to homeschooling everyone this coming year after a few years of mixing things up with full or part time school. I'm feeling eager to plan but wanting some inspiration; want to share how you all plan your school year? How much planning do you do at a time? How often to you review or adjust plans? How specific or non specific are your plans? Favorite planning resources?

I've got 1st, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th grade next year, plus a couple of tag along littles.

I would start with the highschooler and make an excel spreadsheet of credits earned so far and credits still needed and see what we need to do next year.  Then I decide what I want to outsource or join with others and what I want us to do at home.  For things at home, I prefer open and go materials.  At that point, I would make an excel spreadsheet for each child, subjects down the side, years across the top and fill in what had been done the last year or two to give me a big picture of what has been going on and what we need to do next (i.e., was last year a grammar-focus year?  Do we want to just review grammar and focus on writing now?), etc.  Then I fill in curricula I KNOW we're going to use (i.e. math, for example if it's not changing).  Then I look at what's left and make decisions - usually deciding skill needs first and then content and deciding where to combine or not - what will be semi-independent and what will be "family" subjects.  I'm pretty boring, but I know my limits - I cannot engage with all the people on all the subjects all the time - so I take that into consideration as I decide things.  I want to make sure essentials are covered and I want to keep the rest sweet and simple and efficient.  

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I’m not a planner, I tend to go with the flow. However I would have a 9th and 10th grader this fall so I would need DS13 to come up with his 4 year plan. DS14 gave me his four year plan last May. 

DS14 wants to knock off as many of the state universities minimum requirements as fast as possible so he read the requirements chart (http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/counselors/files/csu-uc-a-g-comparison-matrix.pdf) for UC and CSU and plan with that in mind. 

We school year round mainly to balance the load for DS13 so he has three bearable loads instead of two heavy (to him) loads. Colleges have summer term as well so I don’t see any harm in spreading the load while he is in high school since that is a viable option if and when he is in college. DS13 would be completing two high school credit course (math, econs) in summer school. DS14 doesn’t mind summer school because it is too hot to be outdoors. 

With DS13, I also have to make sure the AP exams he is interested in taking isn’t going to fall on the same day as he would be exhausted. Even DS14 won’t be happy having a whole day of AP exams. So for both kids, we look at next years AP exams schedule and decide which subjects would give the most days off between exams. For example, DS13 had exams on Thursday, Monday, Thursday, which makes it a lovely exam schedule for him. DS14 had exams on three consecutive days which made it a slog. 

DS14 isn’t interested in starting dual enrollment yet so we don’t have to take into account community college schedules. 2019/20 was a crazy 9th grade year for him because of my health. We are spending summer salvaging his 9th grade year so that he could complete his 9th grade credits (English, foreign language, history) in summer. 

DS13 is easier to plan for than DS14 because he doesn’t care for rigor as long as he can get a good GPA for the sake of college applications. DS14 wants rigor over grades so it is going to be fun times when it comes to college applications. I just updated both my kids high school transcripts. I need to update their course descriptions documents. 

What I do plan for is time management because time is less flexible when using tutors and outside classes. Both kids would have Saturday morning class, tennis lessons, and lessons with two tutors. DS13 does much better with brick and mortar classes so I have to look at the 2019/20 schedules of after school classes and see which ones would suit DS13 after he confirms which subjects he wants to take for 9th grade. 

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Fun! I blogged about some of the things I do--I start by deciding the Priorities and Passions for each student. Then I think through what will be a Workable Routine for us. Then I Implement the New Routine (that's where some changes can happen if the original routine isn't working for some reason.) 

Have fun planning! I always loved going through all the new books and deciding what to do and how to do it. I typically made up a one-page document with any notes about my plan for each subject--or if was something super easy like math (which is almost always a lesson or section per day, unless the student needs more time on a concept)--then I just kept a grading page or a copy of the TOC if I wanted to track our progress. For longer things like planning history or literature, I used to go through the books and decide an order and a rough amount of time for each (I say rough because this is definitely subject to change--though I got better at estimating over the years!). But having the order helped me--we could just "do the next thing" which is what I preferred to having a rigid graph of "do X on day 1," etc... I always get "off track" when there is that much detail, and "do the next thing" can work really well if you have a good outline of a plan (such as a typical goal of X minutes per day per subject or "a chapter a day" or  X  minutes/amount of content per week if you like to work in blocks.) 

If you tend to pick too many books for some subjects, take time to decide your priority ones, and put asterisks by them in your list. Then if you get behind, make sure to hit those that you decided were priority--and you can cross others off your list if needed. I used to also keep an "optional" list of some books if we got ahead, or if I just wanted to switch something out mid-year. 

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On June 1, 2019 at 6:37 PM, maize said:

I'm back to homeschooling everyone this coming year after a few years of mixing things up with full or part time school. I'm feeling eager to plan but wanting some inspiration; want to share how you all plan your school year? How much planning do you do at a time? How often to you review or adjust plans? How specific or non specific are your plans? Favorite planning resources?

I've got 1st, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th grade next year, plus a couple of tag along littles.

Wow, you're making my head spin there! I think first I'd be planning how you're going to take care of YOURSELF. :biggrin:  I've love that you're inspired and have your va-voom back. Or is it not quite back and you're looking for it? Usually I get my vavoom when I realize there's something important I need to do with the dc that I can make happen. Beyond that, I kinda feel like it's ok to find my obsessions and fulfillment elsewhere. I mean, you've done enough grades, you've got this down, maybe it's no longer that astonishing and is just work.

Like some of the others are saying, I start with big picture goals for the dc and then start filling in with ways to meet those goals. Then when I have the pile, I work up a potential schedule (not that I use it, haha) with how much time each thing would take and start HACKING back to reality. I think with that many kids your biggest issue is dynamic, how you flow between them, and whether you want some unity activities or how you get unity with things besides unity activities. I think building up from routines (morning routines, getting meals and dishes done, things that need to be done to make your house run well, etc.) are good.

Then I start looking at my space and I do a massive, ridiculous overhaul, rearranging furniture, bringing in things, thinking how furniture and layout can improve function and flow. Sometimes I realize my space could let me have goals I didn't realize I could have, like goals for independent work or ways we could work together or ways I could group subjects that I hadn't thought of. All that flows from the organization of the space. 

Like this coming year, I'm thinking to put our room into a circuit of work stations. My ds will start at one, work, go to the next, right on around the room. So organization drives flow drives function. I try to make spaces where things can happen so it's all very logical and obvious. My dh also says something about wheels being a woman's favorite piece of machinery. Apparently I like to rearrange things. :biggrin:

Then I make sure the structures and organizations I need to make it go well are in place. Checklists, notebooks, OneNote virtual folders for a high schooler, that kind of thing. With ds I use clipboards and an in-box. Sometimes school supplies inspire me. I'm really bad about that, because I'll go in and see these really cute blank cards or a box or a certain type of binder pockets and I'm like OOO WHAT COULD I DO WITH THAT? LOL. So when in doubt, school supplies. The sales will start soon.

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Same as most everyone else::

What do I want to teach each child?  The highschooler is actually the easiest because so many classes are required for a diploma or college entrance.

Then I start to scour this forum for ideas of curric for each subject.  I also am constantly adding links to a huge OneNote notebook I have of each grade and each subject.  If someone posts something about chemistry, I pop over to the OneNote notebook and find the 10th grade chemistry tab and add the link there.  When it’s time to plan chemistry, I’ll have already collected a bunch of information about it.  (I started that notebook about 5 years ago and it’s the best thing I ever did to help myself planning the future.  I also have a college notebook with information about Fafsa, SATs, Counsellor letters, etc.) 

Once I figure out the curric to use, I break it down over 180 days or 9 months.  Each week, I make a plan on Saturday or Sunday for the following week, making sure we hit our goals by the end of the week.

The planning part is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.  🙂

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I'm not much of a planner. I planned extensively when my girls were little, but I never stuck with the plans I made, so that all got dropped. 

Pretty much, we just do the next thing. I buy curricula that require  very little outside prepping or planning. 

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12 hours ago, Kathryn said:

 

This is what I’m like. I buy everything and schedule everything for the whole year before the school year starts. But, I do all the scanning, copying, printing, booklists, supply lists, etc. for the whole year. I arrange everything into 36 weeks with a master copy for me that will go into their portfolio and one for them that they consult and check off themselves. 

I’ve only ever felt the need to switch what I was doing mid-year once. And I’ve only had to change the scheduled pace once. 

 

I bow before you. I am in awe. 

For our family, we seem to have too many things we are juggling to ever have planning work out perfectly. About every 4 months I go over things. I see what we are using that is almost done, and what I want to do next. We had a couple years with a lot of upheaval to our school schedules, so we don't even try to stay on a school year at this point. Different kids finish and start subjects when they complete materials on their own schedule, unless they are combined like in history. Some things are on grade level, some are way ahead, some kids will never even hit kindergarten level mastery. I expect we will have surprises in our year that will throw us off track (3 different hospitalizations last December) so we just keep moving forward when life is calm.

I've come to like the way we start new materials all through the year. We are always doing some of the same work so our daily routine and structure are there, but it gives a new change of pace when we finish something. It's much easier than when we used to start the new year with a bunch of new subjects at once.

Edited by beaners
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23 hours ago, Mom28kds said:

Oh Wow! I feel a little unqualified with how I do it compared to others. I research to find the curriculum I want then just do the next thing each day. No planning ahead.

 

Don't feel bad.  I did that for years and it worked just fine.  The only reason I plan so much is I'm teaching 5 and 3 are in high school.  

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On 6/2/2019 at 9:45 PM, Melissa in Australia said:

every year I read sections of TWTM

 I then have a page with headings for each subject

 I fill in what curriculum I am going to use for each subject under the heading

I make sure I have all the books I need an d purchase some if needed

 I then get distracted by all the other options and purchase some unneeded extras that I thought looked excellent at the time

I put all the books for the year into piles including the books I will assign as readers

 and that is it

 

This is very similar to my process! 😆

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nm

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I use excel because I love excel. I have a sheet for each child and I list subjects and then under subjects what I want to use for each. I use three columns so I can put in where to buy it and how much. I highlight the cells as I acquire them. I have a separate sheet for each kid with books needed for read-alouds, readers, history......  This sheet uses several columns because I usually check if each is available at our library and for the ones that aren't and spines I compare costs from amazon, thriftbooks, ebay...... to find the best deals. 

Next I take each curriculum and split it into 36 by lessons/units/pages/whatever it uses. I make an excel sheet for each child that has each curriculum across the top and 36 rows. Each cell has a very abbreviated notation of what we should be on that week to finish in the year.  In the end I have one big grid for each kid. Throughout the year I highlight cells as they are completed. I don't follow the grid strictly, it just helps me see at a glance if we're maintaining a pace to finish in a year. If not I either adjust what we do or my expectations. It's really nice to see those columns turn yellow through the year. 

I use a teacher planner from the target dollar spot to plan weekly. I have one for each kid and I fill it in sometime over the weekend for the week ahead. (Or Monday morning when I've put it off!) This is when I flesh out what specifically we're doing that week. 

I also print out a year-at-a-glance calendar for July - June. I make a simple highlighter mark on each day we do school. This is mostly for me to be able to know for myself if we're keeping on track or taking too many days off. My state does require that we school 180 days but does nothing to check up on that. But I guess I'll have it if ever it comes up. I have a second print-out of the same calendar that I use to roughly mark out big breaks and add in an off week here and there to absorb our one-off days. I number the remaining weeks 1-36. I also don't follow this closely, but I use it to compare with our "attendance" calendar. Dividing our highlighted days by 5 I can tell what 'week' we are in and compare to my planned calendar and what week I thought we would be in at that point. 

Most of my planning is really just to help my brain organize what we have to do and so I can look at what we've done. I don't really use it to tell us what we need to do. 

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Over the summer we look at what curriculum has worked for us and which hasn't. There are times I do that throughout the our school year, especially when curriculum is not working for one of our children.  I typically read and watch reviews online and sometimes order samples from publishers to determine if it is something we are interested in.  This year I will be teaching Pre-K, Kindergarten, 3rd and 4th grade.  We basically cover three main areas for subjects: Math, Reading and Language Arts. Electives for subjects we cover are Geography, History, Art and Nature Studies/Science.  

I don't plan lessons for the whole year because sometimes things come up. Recently we took three weeks off because everyone came down sick with a terrible flu virus. I try to plan out a month in advance.  I create an Excel spreadsheet and plan out each week. I have tried purchased planners in the past and they did not work out so well.  I do use an editable monthly calendar for reference that I created.   I also create worksheets and other printables that we supplement as needed.   

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Can't help you with the older ones, I'm only teaching K, 2 & 5 next year with a toddler and newborn thrown in but if you're just looking for ideas...

I have found the more detailed my plans the more likely I am to give up when they don't work out "perfectly."  I have serious issues with perfectionism when it comes to school plans for some reason and I have trouble adjusting on the fly.  But, I also use very little pre-planned curriculum so I need some plans/goals to feel like we've accomplished something at the end of the year.

First thing I do is go through the calendar and mark 6-10 week sessions, 1 make up/fun school week and 1-2 week vacations tied to holidays.  I find that having a built in "make up week" every so often really helps with "life happens."  We school from mid-August to July 4th and DD10 is old enough to resent getting behind and having to finish up school work during summer break.  Unfortunately, even with the make-up weeks sometimes life happens very seriously and we end up schooling year round.  The goal is 32 weeks of 4 days each so about 128 days of at-home sit down work and around two to four weeks of make up or fun stuff (e.g. educational videos/field trips) if we're all caught up.  We have a once a week co-op and we usually take trips to historical sites or museums during vacations (we go to re-enactments throughout the year too) so I end up meeting the state's 170 day requirements.

Then I decide how much time I have to devote to each DC and how much time I want them spending on school overall (K=1 hr, 2nd=2 hrs, 5th=4 hrs).  I have found that setting a time limit before any other plans is critical because otherwise I over-plan.  Next I figure out how to fit everything in around our daily "pegs."  Lunch almost always happens at noon and I try to make sure we get a nature walk (or garden work depending on the season) and all one-on-one work accomplished before then.  I do write out a MOTH type schedule but in reality it works out to something far more fluid and routine like and the times are really only there to keep me on track (it's 4 o'clock - I really need to give the toddler a snack and get started on supper prep sort of thing).  Once I have an idea of the flow of our days I can move to actual "school planning."

I consult w/ DC and decide on which texts I will use as "spines."  Reading instruction is a no brainer I will always use Webster's and I do handwriting lessons in a composition book w/ Don Potters fast track to cursive so there's no planning there.  But, I like to have one longer text going for all of our other LA work.  DS6 will be using Hiawatha, DD7 wants to do the Noah's Ark story from the Bible (so she will be memorizing the actual verses, using them for copywork and dictation once she's at that point, and probably drawing animals to illustrate the copywork).  DD10 will start the year off with a chapter of the Bible and then we'll probably move on to a short story anthology.  I pick something for Latin & math.

So far we have unschooled for the content subjects and I am perfectly happy with how much history they know, but next year I'm going to try to have some nature related read alouds for all of them during lunch time just to give a little bit more structure to what we've already been doing.  I'm not planning ahead on this because that is a guaranteed way to make sure that I'll just give up as soon as we get "behind."  Instead I plan on picking a text or two to read through two days a week (DD10 will probably do a written narration and the other two draw pictures in their notebooks) and alternate those days with memorizing the states & capitals using geography songs.  Since DD7 is really keen on the Noah's ark story it will probably be a zoology theme.  I may end up using the MP birds study guide for some of that time as well and see if we can't finally memorize some of the birds' names we've already observed and looked up (they're just not sticking - I feel we need something slightly more methodical).

Then come the actual day to day plans.

Well, I don't actually have plans for K & 2nd beyond picking texts that we're working through one day at a time.  At the younger years I'm definitely inspired by the work of Ella Frances Lynch and she was a big proponent of not planning beyond the next day and in practice I've found that's very prudent.  For them I just have a daily checklist.  K: Poem, Catechism/prayers, Phonics, Russian as foreign language, fine motor activity (he's not ready to write and we do cursive first); we delay math so no need to even think about it.  2nd: Poem, Catechism, English reading & writing, Russian reading & writing, Latin, Math (I follow EFL's arithmetic lessons & let her pick a Miquon worksheet or two so no plans there either). Together for the littles: Read aloud & observation lesson.

With DD10 I have a weekly goals list for each subject (e.g. these math topics, these pages in Bible history, this FFL lesson, etc) for me so that I can make sure we cover a sufficient amount of ground before the end of the year.  For her own use I make a template in Excel that resembles MP lesson plans.    This is really a checklist too since I don't have specific assignments on there (except for actual curriculum like FFL).  Language arts might look like this on any particular day: 1) Dictation or composition 2) Study spelling words 3) Poem; or for religion: 1) Read pg. ______ 2) Discuss w/ Mama 3) Memorize this Catechism question.  She loves this and really thrives with having her own plan book.  I write in the actual "assignments" during our daily meeting/tutorial.

Oh yeah, DH does the literature read alouds in the evenings.  I don't plan those ahead either: he has good taste and I leave it all up to him.  I play CDs of hymns/folk songs during kitchen clean up time (it's amazing how effective this is at getting them to learn the lyrics!) and the older girls take music lesson and enjoy listening to classical music during our mandatory quiet time.   Art is really laid back around here: we go to museums, look at coffee table art books, etc. so I don't need to plan that either.

Oddly enough, however, all this non-planning takes an enormous amount of time and every year I look longingly at the MP core packages...    

HTH at least a little bit, if not it was fun actually writing all this out: I've never tried writing out an explanation of my planning methods before.  It was a good exercise!

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I am only in my second year.  I love planning but I am hopeless at following up.  So this year I  chose a writing in maths.  History is ancients and NZ has 4 terms so we are doing stone age, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, Roman Empire.  We have music and dance for ds10 and Art, Judo and youth group for ds10.  Everything else is flexible.

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